Help, I’m Texting And I Can’t Communicate!

Posted on

image_printPrint Blog

As opposed to our parents or grandparent’s generations, we have more tools at our disposal to communicate with one another than ever before. For example, back in the day, it was a pretty big deal to have a telephone on the wall of the kitchen. It was often a challenge to get (or make) that call, as we’d usually have to tell those pesky, eavesdropping neighbors to get off of the line.

Now, in addition to virtually everyone having their own “smartphone,” we can text, tweet, follow, post, FaceTime, Skype, emoji, Google, blog, ping, and ring. But do we communicate? Do we listen, and does anyone listen to us?


Psychologists Shake Their Heads

The psychology community has concluded (and there’s hundreds of stories and scientific papers on this) that despite every conceivable mechanism to communicate, we as a culture have never been more isolated. It takes no mental training to see that much of what we have labeled “social media,” is based on people talking at each other and not to each other.

Social media devotees strive for numbers, not for a human-to-human interaction. If 50 friends on Facebook is “OK,” then in today’s world, 500 Facebook friends are fantastic. Here’s the deal about all of those friends. Suppose (and I wish this on no one) your spouse was diagnosed with a terrible illness and you needed a dear friend to share it with, would you rather have an in-depth conversation with a trusted, devoted acquaintance or with the Facebook friend of a Facebook friend whose response is to post an emoji of a crying puppy?

Unfortunately, far too many of us believe communication skills are Twitter keystrokes or getting 22 “likes” to a post on flavored toothpaste.

If the adults around you are losing the ability to communicate on an actual human level, think of their children and grandchildren. Our children have learned to communicate with an emoji or a GIF. Not surprising, psychologists are further warning of children being more isolated than ever. I can’t tell you how many times when I’ve been on the road that I’ve observed couples at dinner staring into cell phones than at each other, or worse, the instances where parents take their kids to a restaurant and the first thing the parents do is to stick a device in front of their kids to “entertain” them.

We are good at looking up something of interest in a search engine, but sadly, we are losing our ability to communicate on a human level.


What Happened to Cursive?

Remember cursive writing, what was once known as “The Palmer or Peterson Method?” Most school systems no longer teach it. It’s not that losing the skill is a major catastrophe, it’s that it’s endemic of the fact that most of society no longer writes letters or even thank you notes. It’s not even that taking the time to physically writing letters is something to be mourned. It is that daily communication skills are being lost.

Excellent verbal and written communication skills are indispensable and are all too often being ignored. We are losing our ability to have meaningful, social interactions in favor of digital devices. If we are losing practice sitting down with one another and having meaningful communication, think of how it is affecting children. While I am not suggesting the smartphone is evil, I am saying that we are not, as a society, practicing clear communication.

Hiring managers have long complained that job applicants don’t know how to present themselves in interviews. I well remember a speech by Larry Ellison, the enormously successful founder of software powerhouse Oracle, talking to a group of recent college graduates. He chided them on their inability to write and their inability to verbally communicate.

Communication is not only essential for business but every aspect of your life; to your close personal relationships, teachers, customers, business associates, and even to patients.

While there is no end to software packages to correct spelling or grammar and no lack of online information to being a more productive employee, there is almost no help for those who have difficulty expressing themselves or helping people to avoid uncomfortable situation brought about by miscommunication.

What we don’t value is frequently lost. Unfortunately, most of us have stopped valuing the pure joy of talking to one another and hearing each other with our hearts. Texts, tweets, posts, and the like are digitally cold.

Many people are excellent at typing or texting away at rapid speed. Relatively few of us are active at being present enough to console a friend, communicating our thoughts to co-workers and responding to those around us in an authentic manner. The good news is that after we put our devices away and are left with “just” our hearts, it is amazing how the communication starts to flow once again.


For more information about Hall of Fame speaker and bestselling author Steve Gilliland and the Gilliland Foundation, please contact steve@stevegilliland.com / 724-540-5019 / www.stevegilliland.com.